Tuesday, December 06, 2011

On Reading Sermons

When you do so much reading it is difficult to join with you in what you are saying. Reading tends to keep your emotion and intonation out of your presence and voice. In the same way that affirmation brings the person you are affirming along with you and puts them on your side, so too does emotion in the message. The preacher needs to get fired up about what he is talking about and then that emotion needs to carry over into the listener and bring them along with where the preacher is going.

Reading tends to cause you to lose the congregation's attention because you lose eye contact, you tend to read in either a sing songy tone, or a monotonous tone, or with a steady speed. Speaking extemporaneously allows you to vary what you are saying to keep the flow interesting for the listener and to engage them in the subject. They want to hear what you are saying because they are caught up in what you care about, because you care about it, and they care about you.

Reading keeps your personality out of the message. Some think this is a good thing because, they say, it lets Jesus and not the preacher shine through. But that goes against the  Scriptural model. The Biblical preacher speaks for God, but each preacher is different because each one is also preaching. Isaiah is clearly not like Job. And Moses is clearly not like Paul. You can tell them apart because each man was also preaching. A preacher needs to let his own person shine through so the people can rally around him and come near to Christ with him. This can be done by a person reading most of his sermon, but only in rare circumstances and not for very long periods of time.

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